Keeping your career on track during divorce

Even if the decision to divorce was mutual, it will still impact your life in significant ways. You can have the most amicable divorce possible, but still get distracted by the details of separating marital property, creating a parenting plan and negotiating spousal or child support.

Naturally, the attention and focus you give to your divorce proceedings will detract from the attention and focus you give to your professional life. Most of us cannot give 110 percent every day when facing something as emotionally (and financially) disruptive as divorce. That said, there are several things you can do to prevent your divorce from derailing your career.

What to do if you are an individual contributor

Although you can try to keep your personal life separate from your professional one, it may not always be possible to keep your divorce from intruding on your work. To stay ahead of the curve, consider the following tips:

  • Inform your boss or supervisor. That way he or she has more context for why you may be requesting more time off than usual. Work with him or her to develop a plan to stay on top of your tasks.
  • Limit your time-off requests as much as possible. Court dates are not flexible, but your attorney might be. Try to schedule appointments around your work hours if possible.
  • Stay focused on the task at hand. While you are at work, be at work. Keep your focus on your tasks, which might be easier said than done some days. Focusing on your work may actually provide some relief from the turmoil of your personal life.
  • Be careful with whom you share your news. You may want to tell a few trusted coworkers about your situation, but no one wants to become the subject of office gossip. Keep your divorce on a need-to-know basis.

What to do if you are the boss

Managing divorce in the workplace goes both ways. If you run a small business or manage a team of people, you play a role in keeping a divorce from derailing your collective productivity. If one of your employees mentions they are getting divorced, the following can help prevent unnecessary drama:

  • Work with your employee as much as you can. Some standards cannot be ignored, but flexibility can go a long way to helping your employee stay focused and satisfied with their job, even in the midst of a divorce.
  • Be aware of and curb office gossip. Nothing derails a highly productive team faster than rumors or malicious gossip. You want your employee to feel safe and productive at work, not ostracized.
  • Stifle the urge to give advice. You may want to offer sympathy to your employee or coworker. You may have even gone through a divorce yourself. However, every case is unique, so what might sound helpful to you might actually sound pedantic or patronizing to your employee.

Whether you are the one in charge or not, following these tips can help ensure your career does not suffer unnecessary setbacks during this transitional time.

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